List of Latest Articles
A list of articles from all article categories
Pinned Planning next steps in the moment (available to visitors)
Planning for individual children is a statutory requirement. However, such plans do not have to be written down. A skilful practitioner is making several hundred “in the moment” plans every day.
An early years practitioner in the Millennium: Challenges of technology, austerity, accountability, and globalisation. One practitioner’s perspective. (available to visitors)
I spent over twenty rewarding and stimulating years as a classroom teacher in the North of England and for the most part as a senior manager responsible for the early years foundation stage (EYFS). I delighted in working with children and parents and felt hugely privileged to be able to foster relationships and play a role in such a formative time in their lives. I was immensely proud of my achievements and my work was very much a part of my identity and who I was. I did not aspire to be a Headteacher as I did not feel that management was a route I would take to achieve my goals. It was also possible that this path could be at variance with my evolving teaching philosophy. I always thought I would stay in the classroom but as those of you who were followers of my posts on the forum will know, this intention did not come to fruition for me and reaching for goals can take unknown paths.
What are your long and short-term goals?
What are your aspirations for the children that you work with?
What needs to be accessible to you to achieve these aspirations?
“Working with multilingual children in the Early Years.” Dr Rose Drury speaking at The Nursery World Show – February 2017. (available to visitors)
From Spring 2017, all schools will be required to assess and report on English proficiency in the Department for Education (DfE) census for any child with English as an additional language (EAL). As this will include children in maintained nursery schools and classes, as well as those in reception, Dr. Rose Drury’s seminar on working with multilingual children in the early years was very timely.
I am currently working towards Early Years Teacher Status as an Early Childhood Studies graduate. I am sharing my academic journey hoping to inspire those considering academic studies of their own.
Have I Got The Power to Make a Difference ? (available to visitors)
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
You must do the things you think you cannot do.
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
Eleanor Roosevelt 1884 -1962
Observations of staff (Part 1) (available to visitors)
We talk often in early years about developing practitioners’ observation skills. We are attuned to observing children to help us assess progress and plan further developments (Machan 2016). Working with the Development Matters guidance (2012) we can begin to quantify children’s attainment. The age/stage descriptors give us pointers about where children are ‘at’ developmentally and using the refinements emerging, developing and secure we can fine tune our professional judgement us make accurate, individualised judgements of each child. As managers, studying the individualised judgements of different groups of children enables us to see how children are achieving in relation to the rest of their peers.
Everything You Need To Know About Observation - and Why We Do It (available to visitors)
As a student getting to grips with the world of early years, the word ‘observation’ filled me with fear and trepidation. I knew it was important but what exactly, was it that I was being asked to do? I didn’t walk around with my eyes shut so why were people asking me to observe?
We know that children love to play. Play is an intrinsic developmental vehicle by which children develop a plethora of skills through physical play, playing with objects, pretence and game play. This ‘knowledge’ of the importance of play has gained the attention of developmental and educational research, with growing empirical evidence for the positive impact that play has on a child’s holistic development.
These are my meeting notes from the NDNA South East regional meeting that I attended on 12th October. They are not official and I won’t have captured everything …but NDNA members can download all the slides and the official notes from the NDNA website – I am not able to copy them here for you.
There were two presentations about the 30 hours funding – one was from the London Borough of Newham, representing the Local Authority. The other speaker was a nursery manager from Swindon. Both were part of the ‘Early Implementer’ project and so have been running with the project since the start of September.
Closeted in the home or watched by helicopter parents children lack much of the freedom they had 40 years ago. British children’s play has been transformed in the last 100 years. In the 1960's few children did not spend all their free time outdoors, playing in the streets, fields and back alleys. This play was unsupervised by adults and children were free to go on adventures far from home often only appearing for food or at dusk. Sadly, this world of free play has largely vanished. A 2007 report by Playday found that in 1973 75% of children played near to their homes, mainly on the road. However, by 2005 only 15% of children aged 5-15 years old took part in street play.
Review of NDNA annual conference 2016 (available to visitors)
Last week FSF HQ headed up the M1 to attend the NDNA conference in Milton Keynes. We attended a range of talks in the Leadership stream – here are the headlines we picked out …
The Historical Context of Outdoor Learning and the Role of the Practitioner. (available to visitors)
You could be forgiven for thinking that outdoor play is a relatively new phenomenon, driven by The National Trust (2016) and their ‘50 Things to do before you’re 11¾’ project. Children and being outside seems to be a recurrent theme in the media and with organisations, such as the National Trust, focused on reconnecting people with nature and the outside. Outdoor play is not a new construct; those of us who played outside throughout childhood have fond memories of being at one with nature.
Development Matters: A landscape of possibilities, not a roadmap (available to visitors)
How many times have you thought that it would be easy to use Development Matters as a 'tick list'? Which managers have had heated meetings with staff who say that 'ticking off' aspects makes it so much easier to plan next steps? I know that here at FSF HQ we get many many requests to create a tick chart on Tapestry for staff to use, we always say 'No, absolutely not'. In this article, Nancy Stewart, who co-authored Development Matters, explains brilliantly why the tick sheet approach is not appropriate and explains the rationale behind the Development Matters statements.
Creative Diaries: Clay Work in the Early Years (available to visitors)
“Only through the arts and by being creative can children explore the inner world of their imagination and feeling – the world that is uniquely them”.
Sir Ken Robinson, Patron of Earlyarts.
‘One day a grandma was a parent helper teaching in one area of the room. After she watched me working with the children she pulled me aside to tell me her first experience with clay. She told me that the only thing she still has today from all her years of school is a little pinch pot she made when she was in her first year’. (Post, Date unknown). What is remarkable of this story is the importance that this grandma attached to this little object she made in clay some sixty years ago. All the maths, writing, worksheets she may have done as a child is all gone. The only artefact she valued enough to keep from her time in school is the one thing she made with her own hands. This demonstrates that things and experiences we value as human beings stay with us and we keep them close, but also the value of clay work in the earliest years of childhood
This is the second part of our conversation with inspectors. In this part, Justine explains to us how she begins her inspections. She tells us about she uses observations and documents provided by the setting to secure her inspection judgements.
Part 1 in a series of articles detailing the inspection process as it is 'in real life'. We have input from current inspectors as well as from recently inspected practitioners and managers. We debunk some myths and put the facts out there for you to discuss.
Victoria Derbyshire discusses 30 hours funding (available to visitors)
"Childcare is at the centre of political debate" Jenny Chapman MP shadow childcare minister
... and quite rightly so say FSF
The 30 hours funding is a hot potato at the moment and Victoria Derbyshire discussed it at length on her BBC2 programme
Here are the key points from that discussion.
Safeguarding is effective: day to day safeguarding (available to visitors)
In this series of articles, we have so far looked at making sure that your premises are safe for children to use and we have considered the steps you should take to help you ensure that all of your staff are suitable to work with children.
“Safeguarding is effective”
In terms of your Ofsted report this is the phrase you need to have. Without it, however good your learning and development is, your setting will be judged at best ‘Requires Improvement’
'Listening to Young Children' Project (available to visitors)
‘Listening’ in the early years is used to mean valuing and responding to children’s thoughts, ideas and feelings, offering genuine choice and involving children in decisions that affect their daily lives
In 2014 the Department for Education published guidance on promoting ‘fundamental British values’ in schools to ensure that young people leave school prepared for life in modern Britain. These values were first set out by the government in their counter terrorism strategy titled Prevent Strategy (HMSO, 2011), which has now come into force through British values. So what are the ‘fundamental British values’ that need to be promoted? In schools, teaching British values means providing a curriculum which ‘actively promotes’ the following:
It is often noted in literature that planning and teaching should be based around children’s interests. Through doing so, practitioners can enhance development and progress in each area of learning. The National Strategies for Early Years suggest that ‘children’s choices and interests are the driving force for building knowledge, skills and understanding’ (DfCSF, 2009, p.6). Therefore practitioners need to be attuned to children’s play, their conversations, and the activities that they participate in. This is so they can search for clues to each child’s interest, thus becoming what I call the interest catcher!
Creative Diaries: Taking a line for a walk (available to visitors)
The provision of mark making opportunities can help children develop imaginatively, creatively and physically. Mark making is important for many reasons. It is a visible way for children to tell stories and express feelings, record what they have to say, solve problems and discover solutions – and sometimes it is just an outlet for pure physical enjoyment.
Ofsted published their first report on the early years sector in April 2014. This year’s report, published in July 2015, includes some very interesting statistics and discusses issues highly relevant to all providers. If you don’t have time to read the document in full, here are the highlights.
The use of milestones in the form of development checklists do not take on the individuality of each child. They are generic and imply that all children go through the sequential process. This article aims to introduce the concept of individuality of each child with a focus on stepping away from the curse of the checklist.
Kathy Brodie examines how Sustained Shared Thinking can be used to enhance the four areas of learning and development in the EYFS known as the Specific Areas: Mathematics, Expressive Arts and Design, Literacy and Understanding the World.
Developing Sustained Shared Thinking to enhance the areas of Learning and development – Prime areas (available to visitors)
In this article, Kathy Brodie focuses on how sustained shared thinking can support each of the Prime areas of learning and development, as defined by the EYFS – Communication and Language; Physical Development and Personal, Social and Emotional Development.
It is not always clear how observations should be used to inform planning, assessments and evaluation of children's progress. Sometimes the huge array of choices can make choosing a next step a really confusing task.
This article is about young children playing with digital technologies at home and in their educational settings. It draws on a series of research studies conducted at the University of Stirling over a period of 10 years with my colleagues Professor Lydia Plowman and Joanna McPake.
This article is the third and final in our series on the Characteristics of Effective Learning, following on from Play and Exploration in Action and Active Learning in Action.
Since the Early Years Professional Status was established in 2007 it has undergone a number of transformations. Some of them have been quite minor, such as the number of tasks you have to perform all whether you could have witness statements or not, but there have also been some more significant changes.
This article is the second in our series on the Characteristics of Effective Learning, following on from Play and Exploration in Action which was published on the FSFin July 2013. Please refer to the article for the summary of the characteristics as a whole. This article will concentrate on the second CoEL of active learning, which has been identified by the EYFS as ‘when children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements’ (DfE, 2012).
Objective-led Planning (available to visitors)
Many of the FSF members follow Alistair Bryce-Clegg's blog and have attended his very popular presentations. Following a discussion here about his innovative 'objective-led planning', we invited Alistair to explain this approach.
I teach in the Reception class on Wednesdays. This Wednesday I am in the middle of the usual early morning chaos in my house (me, a husband, two teenagers and a 9 year old all attempting to leave at approximately the same time – need I say more?) when I receive a text from Mrs Swift, the teacher I cover for. She has remembered that this week is e-safety week at school. Please could I do a session on e-safety with the class this morning?
In Part 1 we saw how Emotion Coaching offers a relational model for supporting children’s behaviour. We compared Emotion Coaching to traditional behaviourist approaches and also to other styles of managing children’s behavior, such as a disapproving or dismissing approach. We saw how Emotion Coaching offers a powerful way to connect with young children’s emotional state and helps them to manage their own feelings and desires – to learn to self-regulate their behaviour internally rather than relying on extrinsic rewards or sanctions to modify their behavior.
This article, by Dr Janet Rose from Bath Spa University, draws attention to a growing base of research evidence which suggests that a ‘relational’ rather than a ‘behavioural’ approach to supporting young children’s learning and behaviour is likely to facilitate the development of better self-regulation and social functioning. Such an approach operates to create ‘internal’ mechanisms within the brain. An approach that encapsulates this more affective and effective way of managing behaviour is called ‘Emotion Coaching’. It reflects the evidence that the most successful programmes, in terms of improving behaviour for learning, are those that focus on the emotional and social causes of difficult to manage behaviour and proactively teach social and emotional competencies. It is also supported by recent findings from neuroscience.
This article will focus on the need for early years practitioners to develop their knowledge of reflective thinking. It will focus on some of the history and theory of reflective practice considering and discussing how theory can help develop practitioners knowledge of how and when to use reflective thinking in day to day situations. It will then go onto to discuss how reflective practice relates to the plethora of policy and guidance documents used within early years practice. The final section will draw on specific examples to illustrate how reflective practice has helped make early years practice more inclusive.
The Great Reception Bake Off.
The day that I cover in Reception is cooking day. I embrace the learning of this valuable life skill at such a young age, and clearly the children do too as it is a very popular activity: oversubscribed in fact. It is also a bit of a dietary minefield.
Here is the final article in the Aspects of Art series, looking at how children can be creative in 3D through sculpture. Working in three dimensions gives children the opportunity to practise skills such as planning and problem solving, fixing and joining, shaping and assembling. This is an art form that involves imagination and the technology of transformation as children explore how to change an object, or a collection of objects, into something else. Sculpture can be done on a small or large scale, by an individual or collaboratively. The key to inspiring children to work in 3D is to have a wide variety of interesting and unusual resources available and to embrace each child’s creative ideas.
Joint observations have now become a must under OfSTED’s early years inspection framework. Inspectors have found that evidence gained through the joint observations with senior staff is proving to be extremely valuable and has provided them with an excellent opportunity to assess how well leaders and managers monitor staff performance. So how do you go about preparing for the joint observation, and how do you reassure your staff?
Characteristics of Effective Learning: play and exploration in action (available to visitors)
Characteristics of Effective Learning (CoEL) are a revived element in the current Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (EYFS). CoEL advocate that in planning and guiding children’s activities, practitioners must reflect on the different ways that children learn, and then reflect these in their practice. A child’s individual learning characteristic will determine the way they respond to both the teaching and learning taking place in the environment. The focus of the CoEL is on how children learn rather than what they learn i.e. process over outcome. Underpinning the CoEL is the understanding that during their earliest years, children form attitudes about learning that will last a lifetime. Children who receive the right sort of support and encouragement during these years will be creative, and adventurous learners throughout their lives. Children who do not receive this sort of support and interaction are likely to have a much different attitude about learning later on in life. Hence, why the supportive practitioner, and the environment they provide, need to nurture these CoELs to occur, but without forgetting that children are individuals who bring their own needs, talents and histories to the learning environment.
Part 2 continues the journey of exploring our role in supporting young children’s learning and development. It outlines the five remaining ‘selves’ of the ‘plural practitioner’ framework that encompass this role. The ‘plural practitioner’ framework is offered as a useful vehicle for enabling us to clarify our role in the day to day interactions with children that occur throughout our practice. It offers a way forward in helping us to minimize any uncertainty about whether ‘to intervene’ or ‘not to intervene’ in children’s play.
Janet Rose, Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at Bath Spa University, explores the many different ways in which adults interact with young children in early years settings. Research demonstrates that the heart of quality practice lies within the interactions that take place between adults and young children and reveals how, in a typical day, early years practitioners might have over 1000 ‘interpersonal interactions’ with children. The process of this interactive engagement between adults and children is explored through a framework known as the ‘plural practitioner’.
Here is the fourth in our series on Art in the Early Years. This time the focus is on Textiles. Fabric is a big part of children’s lives. They wear it, they sleep under it and they sit on it. The familiarity of textiles is what makes them so much fun to explore with young children, encouraging them to look closer, ask questions and use fabrics in new and unusual ways. Some children might be interested in the textures of fabrics, brocades and lace. Others might want to investigate patterns and colour on fabric. Or children might enjoy manipulating textiles, weaving and stitching and knotting. Any textile project in the early years will become embellished with the children’s interests as they learn more about the fabric around them.
Ruksana Mohammed outlines an effective framework of support to EYPS candidates through the work-based mentor. Her suggestions, however, would be of great use to anyone supporting students on a variety of courses, for example Foundation Degrees, and the upcoming Early Years Teacher courses starting September 2013. Ruksana is the EYPS Programme Leader and a Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies at the University of East London.
Our aim as professionals is to achieve better outcomes for children, families and the community. We want to provide effective learning experiences for the children in our care, and strive for continuous quality improvement, but also want to ensure personal and professional development. With this shared understanding and vision of the early years, reflection, through adopting certain thinking approaches, is the tool that supports us to achieve this. Ruksana Mohammed, Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies at the University of East London identifies some effective processes we can adopt to develop our skills of reflection.
Exploring practitioners' understanding of quality (available to visitors)
Michelle Cottle is a senior lecturer in early childhood studies at the University of Roehampton. Her article discusses some of the issues that may shape early years practitioners’ understandings of ‘quality’ within the context of their particular settings. It draws on data from a project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (2009). Michelle discusses the two distinct ways of understanding 'quality': as a locally-determined, changing and dynamic process for each individual setting, or as a static 'target', externally defined and imposed by statutory frameworks and regulations.
Ruksana Mohammed, EYPS programme leader and lecturer in Early Childhood Studies at the University of East London, outlines the qualities and methods of a successful agent for change. EYPs are entrusted to identify what change is valuable, worthwhile and in need of improving, and to then lead the team on to better practice. However, when discussing this concept with trainee EYPs, it normally brings about a confused dialogue; A change agent? What's that then? What change?
All children are different because each brings different experiences into the setting but this individuality and diversity is in itself a great opportunity for children to learn to value each other and to appreciate their own special distinctiveness. Each child's progress is individual to them and they do not make progress in all areas at the same time. The crucial factor is careful, systematic observation ensuring thorough knowledge of each child's uniqueness. And observing the individual and diverse ways in which children develop and learn is one of the joys of working in the early years!
Hanukkah, or Chanukah, is the Jewish Festival of Lights. The word Hanukkah means ‘rededication’, and it is a time for celebrating a great miracle in Jewish history and for showing hope and dedication against all the odds. The festival lasts for eight days, and this year it begins on the evening of Saturday 8th December and ends on the evening of Sunday 16th December. Juliet Mickelburgh outlines the festival and suggests some lovely activities to carry out with your children.
How do we give effective feedback to children about what they have learned and what they might do next? Here, Sue Ridgway discusses how to involve children in evaluating their learning and planning future experiences.
Paint is such a versatile and energetic medium for children to explore. It can be thick or runny, pale or bright. It can be layered up with other things and it can be dabbed, spread, brushed, flicked or squelched. This article is the third in a series about art in the early years setting and looks at ways to introduce exciting painting experiences to young children.
A helpful article outlining the festival of Diwali.The timing of the festival follows the Hindu lunar calendar and this year it runs from 13th to 17th November. Diwali is full of bright colours, exciting stories and joyous customs, making it very accessible to young children.
In the third and final article on the characteristics of effective learning, Martine Horvath outlines the essential components of critical thinking and how we can support children to develop their creativity.
This is another in the series of articles on festivals and how to celebrate them with young children. Here we look at Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, and the Eid-ul-fitr festival that marks the end of Ramadan. This year Ramadan begins on 20th July and Eid-ul-fitr runs from 19th to 21st August.
What is "Active Learning"? The High Scope approach defines it helpfully as ‘having direct and immediate experiences and deriving meaning from them through reflection’. In this way children can better make sense of their world. It’s in the doing that we can make connections, apply our learning and get results in cognitive and practical harmony. Children act on their natural desire to explore as they ask and search for answers to questions about materials, events, people experiences and ideas that arouse their curiosity. They solve problems that stand in the way of their goals and they generate strategies which help them to overcome barriers and challenges threatening to stop them in their tracks.
Active learning includes a variety of teaching methods such as small group discussion, cooperative learning, role play, hands-on projects, and sensitive practitioner-led open ended questioning. Practitioners should advocate active learning techniques which include the visual, auditory and kinaesthetic aspects of learning. By allowing children to be involved in their own learning practitioners are encouraging them to take greater responsibility for their own education. In the active learning enabling environment, a practitioner’s role is to talk less and facilitate more......
Art is a rich and magical area of learning. It can open children’s eyes to the world around them and offer them new and exciting ways of seeing, thinking and doing. But this doesn’t just happen; presenting children with the opportunity to use clay, paint or charcoal is not enough. Adults working in the early years need to think creatively themselves, explore ideas and resources with the children and celebrate the artistic process.This is a new series on Art in the Early Years, with activity ideas for six different aspects of art – drawing, painting, printing, sculpture, textiles and collage. It begins with a brief look at how we should approach art with young children.
In a series of three articles examining the characteristics of effective learning in the revised EYFS framework, Martine Horvath encourages us to consider how to support children's skills in independent learning. Including a link to an inspiring short film, she discusses how we can sensitively and skillfully support child-initiated play.
Have you heard of the phrase ‘Nature deficit disorder’? Just recently there have been lots of reports, book releases, news articles, and interviews on TV and radio about the need to reconnect children to nature. Many of our children’s lives are well organised by well intentioned parents going from one adult led activity to the next e.g. school to football to drama class to ballet where they often don’t need to do much creative thinking for themselves. They live an over-scheduled, over-organised childhood. Here, Helen Irving shares with us a summary of recent reports on the subject of children's lack of engagement with nature.
Martine Horvath identifies the significant features of the revised EYFS. She states that "It’s important to stress right from the very beginning that all our energies should be channelled into celebrating the positives, continuing to be the confident and positive practitioners that we are, interpreting this revised framework in the spirit that it was intended and acknowledging our own responsibility to use our professional autonomy to keep the children and key principles at the very heart of what we are about; in everything we do, reflect on and work towards, so that we do not unintentionally suffocate best practice with negativity". Read on for inspiration...
In the last few years the use of social media has grown rapidly. It is now estimated that 65% of all adult Internet users access some form of social networking site. The most well known of the social networking sites are Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. Written by Kathy Brodie, this article gives a brief explanation of the uses for each of the different sites and their unique qualities. There is a discussion about the benefits of using social media for nurseries and practitioners, and also the pitfalls we should be mindful of. It is concluded with some recommendations for good practice.
Twenty top tips for helping to develop self-discipline for positive behaviour management in young children
With increasing numbers of children being diagnosed with special educational needs such as ADHD and autism, managing challenging behaviour in a positive way is a challenge most practitioners face in their settings on a daily basis. As practitioners we need to help children develop an awareness, knowledge and understanding of what is expected of them and how to behave acceptably and appropriately towards other people in a variety of situations. Martine Horvath has put together some top tips for you to support children in developing their own self-discipline and self regulating coping skills for life.
The festival of Wesak, or Buddha Day, takes place near the full moon in May, and this year it falls on 5th May. For Mahayana Buddhists it is a celebration of the birth of Buddha and for Theravada Buddhists this day marks the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. It is the most important festival in the Buddhist calendar. Here, Juliet Mickelburgh outlines the main stories associated with Wesak and suggests lots of wonderful activities you can offer your children.
Easter is central to the Christian year. Leading up to it are the forty days and forty nights of Lent, the last week of which is Holy Week. Good Friday is at the end of Holy Week and is the day that Christians commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Easter Sunday celebrates his resurrection. The festival does not have a fixed date, but takes place in March or April each year, and in 2012, Easter Sunday is April 8th. There are many traditions associated with Easter that celebrate new life and rebirth and Juliet Mickelburgh talks us through the most popular.
Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, is one of the most important festivals in the Jewish year. It remembers the flight from Egypt of the Jewish people led by Moses. Passover is a family festival lasting seven or eight days. This year it begins at sundown on 6th April and ends on 14th April. Juliet Mickelburgh summarises the key themes and messages of Passover and suggests some suitable activities for you to offer your children.
Building an accurate picture: Evidencing the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile and the moderation process.
Q: How much evidence do I need? It’s a perennial question and one that is asked on an almost daily basis as moderation visits are underway.
Assessment in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFSP) is based very firmly on the use of observation. Watching, listening and making notes on what we learn about children’s learning from their activities is the bedrock of our practice and observation is routinely used to inform day to day formative assessments. Ultimately, however, these observations form the basis of our summative judgements and are an essential element in establishing the accuracy of the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP) data through the process of moderation. Here, Kate Cahill explains how to engage in effective observational techniques to support the completion of the EYFS profile.
Holi is a Hindu festival. It celebrates the coming of Spring and is known for its fun and colour. Holi is a time of social unity, excitement and a bit of mischief. It falls in February or March each year and this year Holi is on 8th March. It is a wonderful and accessible festival to celebrate with young children. Here, Juliet Mickelburgh outlines the main stories and traditions, and offers some suggestions on how to celebrate Holi in your setting.
Persona Dolls (available to visitors)
How can we use Persona Dolls to support children's understanding of equality and to celebrate diversity? Here, Juliet Mickelburgh gives us ideas on how to introduce the dolls to children and their families, and explains the benefits of including them in your setting.
Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival. It is a fifteen day celebration of good fortune, family and prosperity. The Chinese calendar follows a twelve year cycle and each year is named after an animal. This year, Chinese New Year begins on 23rd January and is the Year of the Dragon. Celebrating Chinese New Year is a wonderful way of introducing another country and another culture to young children.
Developing Art in the Foundation Stage: The Project! (available to visitors)
A personal account of an exhilarating project to develop creative skills by Nottingham City Council.
What do we mean by "good behaviour"? We are often quite clear about the behaviour that we don't want to see in our settings! Can we be proactive about this and plan consistent positive behaviour strategies where all children feel happy and secure and want to demonstrate that "good behaviour", however we define it?
A new role for early years professionals is being developed as part of the Children's Workforce Development consultation. Called Early Years Professionals (EYPs), this article discusses the approach taken to formulating the requirements of the role.
The third of the aspects from Birth to Three Matters is discussed in this fourth article on the amalgamation of BTTM and the Foundation Stage.
The second of the aspects from Birth to Three Matters is discussed in this third article on the amalgamation of BTTM and the Foundation Stage.
As the ties between birth to three matters and the Foundation Stage are formalised with the forthcoming EYFS, we discuss the first of the aspects, A Strong Child, and how it can map into the Learning Goals of the Foundation Stage.
A mother's diary of her daughter Clemmie's development from birth to her first birthday. These snippets of Clemmie's learning and development were first published a few years ago as "Clemmie's Column". We republish them here as two articles for those members who may not have come across them before.
Emotional Competence Part 5: Handling relationships (available to visitors)
In the penultimate article in her series on Emotional Competence, Nicola discusses the necessity of developing an ability to establish good personal relationships, without which learning and emotional growth will be stunted.
Motivation is essential in any aspect of life and plays an important role in a child's early development. Considered as crucial in the development of emotional competence, Nicola Call discusses self-motivation in the fourth article of her series.
In the third article of her series on 'Emotional Competence', Nicola discusses the development of a child's ability to understand and control their natural emotional behaviour.
In the second of her series of articles on Emotional Competence, Nicola Call discusses the development of self-awareness.
Beginning a series of six articles examining the concept of 'Emotional Competence', this article gives an overview within which the others can be understood.
Devising a straightforward method of tracking children's learning and development in the EYFS.
Martine Horvath's belief that all children are born creative is one that many practitioners share. In this article she describes what creativity means in the early years and how we can support this crucial area of learning and development.
Kate Cairns invites us to consider the interaction between resilience and trauma, the key aspects of resilience, and the links between resilience and experience in the early years of life. Humans are not born able to regulate stress. At birth the brain is very unformed. Nearly all the brain structures that enable human beings to function are acquired during the first three years of life, when the brain grows and organises itself at an astonishing rate. Many of these structures in the developing brain are laid down as patterns in response to the behaviour of the adults caring for the young child. Relationships really do build brains in the early years......
Sara Knight, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Anglia Ruskin University, discusses the historical meanings of "schooling" and their relevance to today's young children. She outlines four ways in which we learn, and explains her concerns regarding an over-reliance on one of these ways: instruction. Sara argues that the Forest School approach helps children acquire the learning skills and dispositions essential for them to adapt to an uncertain future in the 21st century.
Babies and young children are able to make decisions that are relevant to their lives. This article examines what kinds of decisions children can make at different stages of their development and how practitioners can support them.
A common perception among the general public is that it is easy to teach young children mathematics. In this article, Professor Anne Cockburn, from the School of Education & Lifelong Learning at the University of East Anglia, discusses some of the potential pitfalls one may encounter in such an undertaking thus illustrating why early years' mathematics education is a rather more complex process than it might first appear.
As adults, we tend to think about time in terms of chronology. Time is linear and ordered. The past stretches into the distance in one direction, the future into the other, and the present sits in the middle. We understand that the past can be recent (yesterday) or long ago (1066). But even as adults our concept of time is subjective – our idea of what was a long time ago or what age a person could be described as 'old' is dependent partly on our own age and experience. Young children are only just beginning to fathom the way we order time.
This article looks at how early years practitioners can introduce young children to the past. It examines how children perceive time and discusses simple ways to explore 'a long time ago' with children.
The principle of inclusive education has dominated educational policy for nearly two decades and under the previous Labour administration inclusion was a key policy imperative. It was embedded within the Every Child Matters agenda (HMSO, 2003) and is central to the Early Years Foundation Stage framework (DfES, 2007). This article takes the stance that inclusion is a broad concept which applies to all learners. Jonathan Glazzard, from the University of Huddersfield, argues that inclusion needs a proactive response and that settings should actively take steps to increase the participation of all children.
Working in partnership with parents is now considered to be one of the key areas of good early years practice, illustrated by the focussing of four Standards in the EYPS on this subject. In the first of two articles we look at why partnership with parents is so important, with the following article exploring how to establish successful partnership.
Jonathan Glazzard, from the University of Huddersfield, provides a broad overview of the key principles of assessment for learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage. He outlines the purposes of assessment and describes key approaches for collecting evidence of children’s achievements. The article also identifies approaches for facilitating the involvement of both children and parents or carers within the assessment process.
Carol Aubrey, Professor at the Institute of Education, University of Warwick, describes the outcomes of a project with early years leaders, including a discussion on the various styles of leadership they exhibit and suggestions on how best to support EYPs.
Find out why the EYFS is more like an onion than a tomato...
Getting through interviews successfully is all about preparation. This article guides the interviewee through the process, recommending strategies for impressing your interviewer.
The perceived need to demonstrate children's development in the Early Years can put pressure on practitioners to move to formal methods of education too quickly. This article explains how learning can be achieved and recorded instead through practical activities.
Following her first well received first article on Foundation Stage Units, Anne discusses in more depth her experiences and the lessons learned of the set up of her unit.
Foundation Stage Units Part 1: developing integrated provision for nursery and reception age children
An overview of the differing types of FSU from an experienced early years professional and author, giving pros, cons and issues around the subject.
It's Good to get Global! Global citizenship in the Early Years (available to visitors)
A well-referenced article, with resources and activity suggestions for introducing young children to the wider world of global citizenship.
What exactly are schemas, and how useful are they in providing the right learning environment for our very young children? This article brings together various definitions of schemas, followed by a brief description of named schemas and a discussion of how we can support children engaged in them.
Advice on how childminders can embrace the EYFS. Don't worry, be happy!
Attachment Theory and the Key Person Approach (available to visitors)
The Key Person Approach is now a fundamental part of developing secure relationships between staff and children in early years settings. Why is it so important and what is the theory behind it?
Good Intentions (available to visitors)
Inclusion, equality, diversity - these words are scattered over official documents including the EYFS, and we all think they are ‘A Good Thing'. But how do these principles get turned into what actually happens in settings? Sue Griffin discusses the issues.
Mark making has an important place in the development towards children's understanding of standard symbolic languages, for example mathematics and writing.
This article discusses children's mark making with reference to practice and pedagogy particularly in Redcliffe Children's Centre, Bristol.
The natural beginnings of written mathematics start within children's imaginative play. In this article, Maulfry Worthington describes children's mathematical graphics; children's own mathematical marks and representations, and gives examples collected over many years of research.
Drawing is an activity that most young children enjoy and there is much evidence to show how it can offer them a powerful means of communicating their ideas, experiences and feelings. In this article, Exeter PhD student Emese Hall tells us about her research in how (and what) young children communicate through drawing.
Martine Horvath suggests some lively activities based around the very popular storybook.
The last in a series of articles examining recent developments in our understanding of how children learn. Here, Juliet Mickelburgh looks at what is meant by child-initiated learning, its presence in the EYFS, and how it influences good early years practice.
Beginning with Books (available to visitors)
This article introduces a new series of planning ideas that use a big book as the starting point for a variety of experiences within the Areas of Learning and Development. 'Beginning with Books' examines early reading skills and attitudes towards how children learn to read, as well as how to prepare for planning with a focus book.
Men in Early Childhood Education: Why we are where we are- perhaps? (available to visitors)
Richard Harty outlines the current issues concerning men in the early years workforce and describes the outcome of the first "Men in Early Childhood" summit in New Zealand.
Another collection of planning ideas using a big book as the starting point. Activities are linked to the EYFS Areas of Learning and Development, including suggestions for displays and role play areas.
Using the TASC system in EYFS Settings (available to visitors)
Belle Wallace, creator of the TASC framework for developing children's thinking and problem-solving skills, explains how significant the relationship is between the acquisition of language and the development of thought.
Rousseau's understanding of the early years of child development as being a profound time in our lives is still relevant today. His appreciation of how much a child learns through finding things out for themselves, and of the role of observation and thoughtful interaction with the child in facilitating this kind of learning, are central to our current understanding of good practice in the early years.
Pestalozzi realised that children feel safe and secure at home and that it was this atmosphere that was most conducive to learning. However, he founded a number of educational establishments as he was aware that not all children could spend time learning in the comfort of their homes. Pestalozzi believed that the early years were a time of influence in children's lives and that a safe, loving and stimulating environment would ensure a successful start to their education.
As the name of his system of schooling suggests, the 'kindergarten' or 'children's garden' allowed time for outside play and experiencing nature. Froebel felt that play should have a purpose if the child was to learn from it. He devised specific playthings and activities for young children, which he called the 'Gifts' and 'Occupations'.
Like other educational theorists before him, Steiner divided childhood up into distinct phases. They fall in seven year cycles and are marked by physical changes in the child. He explained that the early years of childhood are a time of learning by being shown as opposed to being told.The importance of play imitating real life is still key to Steiner-Waldorf kindergartens today.
Dewey partitioned childhood into different stages of development, the first stage being from the ages of four to eight years. He believed that during this period the key factors for successful learning were play, conversation, physical activity and storytelling.
Educational Pioneers: Susan Isaacs, 1885-1948 (available to visitors)
Isaacs had a passionate belief in the place of nursery education in society. She felt that attending a nursery school should be a natural part of a child’s early life: the early years setting was a place that should both mirror the family through love and warmth, as well as offering new and exciting opportunities and resources that might not be available at home.
A brief history and summary of the theories and practical aspects of the Reggio Emilia approach. Malaguzzi had a deep sense of respect for children's ability to be partners in their own learning, and this is at the heart of the Reggio approach to education. He is well known for his expression ‘the hundred languages of children', by which he meant that children understand the world and communicate their thoughts in so many different ways.
Signing with Children (available to visitors)
In April 2009, Milkshake Montessori Nursery School introduced signing into the setting following
the "Signing with Babies and Young Children" accredited CPD course. The achievements made by children, parents/carers and early years practitioners have been impressive, rewarding and inspiring. Here, Geraldine Hill describes the theory behind the methodology.
Sue Ridgway takes us back to 2006, when her setting decided to discard a topic-based approach in favour of developing children's skills through following their interests. In this new article, she describes the impact this change has had on her provision.
Here is another collection of planning ideas using a big book as the inspiration for learning. There are suggested activity starting points related to the Areas of Learning and Development, as well as ideas for displays and role play areas. A book list related to the focus book by author or theme is also included.
Sue Cowley discusses the reasons why some children might have behavioural difficulties and how you, as a practitioner, can help those children overcome them through positive strategies and encouraging empathy.
Using "You Choose" by Pippa Goodhart and Nick Sharratt, as a Focus for Activities (available to visitors)
A new collection of ideas for activities inspired by a children's book. Suggested activities are linked to the Areas of Learning and Development, followed by possible role play areas and displays. There is also a book list with links to other books by the same author and illustrator, and with links to the same themes."You Choose" isn't a story book, but it's not a conventional non-fiction book either. It opens up the world, both near and far, to the children and asks them to think about the everyday and the unusual.
Alison Harmer explores musical experiences in the early years in relation to Personal, Social and Emotional Development.
Having studied over 100 Ofsted reports from the last three months, we can see certain recurrent themes. In a series of four articles we outline those issues that have appeared frequently and our first article looks at recommendations and descriptions of good practice within the EYFS theme of
In our second of four articles looking at recent Ofsted reports, we outline those issues that have appeared frequently over the last three months. Here we examine the recommendations and descriptions of good practice within the EYFS theme of Positive Relationships.
The antidote to Early Years Childcare: Sand and Water (available to visitors)
For those of you suffering Dee Hayday withdrawal symptoms, another in the series of alternative views of Foundation Stage Practitioning!
Joy Chalke, principal lecturer in the School of Education and Continuing Studies at the University of Portsmouth, demonstrates and analyses some of the critical thinking skills required of students engaged in higher education courses.
Observation is at the heart of effective provision, and it ensures that we keep the child at the centre of our practice. This article discusses various tools and techniques practitioners need to carry out effective observation and to support learning within the EYFS.
A commissioned piece of research into the factors which help or hinder early years graduates in successfully undertaking EYPS.
This is a lovely book to focus on when children are starting school or nursery or with a new childminder. There are lots of opportunities to talk about how we feel when the people we love leave, and how we feel when they come back again. Children can also explore night and day and nocturnal animals. Others may be interested in woods and trees and birds. Whatever direction the children want to take their learning, this story provides plenty of interesting starting points.
Life on the Foundation Stage Forum takes on its own seasonal phases and autumn is no exception. As the new academic year commences there are always queries, particularly from school-based practitioners, on how to gather and interpret the progress data required alongside the observational assessment practices required in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework. So what do we need to consider and how do we make best use of the assessment information we gather?
This article examines the role of risk taking in child development and how practitioners can foster a positive attitude to risk in the early years.
A selection of Ofsted inspectors' judgements on the quality and standards of childminders' early years provision and outcomes for children.
Ofsted Inspection Reports for Childminders (Part 1) (available to visitors)
What have recent OFSTED reports focused upon? In a two-part article we summarize over fifty childminders' reports from April and May 2010. How does your setting measure up?
Recent Ofsted Reports: What have Inspectors Focused On? (Part 4) (available to visitors)
The final part of our series on recent Ofsted reports. In this article we look at inspectors' recommendations and judgements around the EYFS theme of Learning and Development.
Donald Winnicott was a psychologist and psychoanalyst who worked predominantly with children and families.In 1957 he wrote that 'the nursery school is probably most correctly considered as an extension 'upward' of the family, rather than an extension 'downward' of the primary school'. This blossoming outwards of the early years continues to have relevance to today's practice, particularly in settings that provide care for babies and toddlers as well as preschool children. All of Winnicott's work underlines the great importance of the first months of life in a child's development and concentrates on a baby's first relationships, most notably with its mother.
This is the third in a series of articles examining current research into the way children learn and how this can be applied in the early years setting. The multi-sensory model links long-held beliefs about learning with the everyday experiences of young children.
This is a great book for looking at things under the ground. The children's interests might take you down a number of different avenues - buried treasure, tunnels, animals that burrow or people who work underground. The story lends itself to lots of outdoor activities and lots of digging!
In our third of four articles looking at recent Ofsted reports, we outline those issues that have appeared frequently over the last three months. Here we examine the recommendations and descriptions of good practice within the EYFS theme of Enabling Environments.
Knowledge about child development is an important tool which enables practitioners to make appropriate provision for young children; but if we are not careful it can also be a dangerously limiting illusion that may actually hamper practice.
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